The PACER folks are in something of a "Love Hangover" about 2013 headliner Jay Leno as they prepare for Saturday's benefit gala starring Diana Ross.
"Just to show you the kind of person Jay Leno is," PACER's executive director Paula Goldberg said as she began to tell me the lengths he went to keep a promise. "Jeff LaDow, an artist from Milwaukee who became quadriplegic when he was 18, who paints with his mouth, donated again to the silent auction. Last year he called and asked if he could paint a special picture for Jay Leno, featuring his motorcycles. He asked if he could present it to Jay and Jay said yes before the performance. That shows you something; most performers don't meet with people before their performance."
But somehow, in the hubbub of a post-performance photo session with PACER supporters, Leno departed without LaDow's painting. About 1:15 a.m. Goldberg noticed a phone message: Paula, this is Jay Leno. I'm in the car going to the airport and I don't have that painting from that young man. Do you know where it is?
Next message: Paula this is Jay again, I still don't have that picture. Could you find out where it is?
Goldberg e-mailed her staff, and the next morning a staffer said she had LaDow's Leno artwork.
"I'm going to Kincaid's for brunch — it was Mother's Day — with my two friends and the phone rings and first it's my younger son from Los Angeles," Goldberg said. She was reluctant to answer because she thought it rude. When the phone rang again, she said she was going to tell her second son she'd call him back. But it wasn't her child.
Paula, it's Jay Leno. It's 9 a.m. in Los Angeles. Have you found that painting? 'Yes, Jay we have it and we'll send it to you.' And he said, That is wonderful. I didn't want to disappoint that young man and have him feel I didn't want his picture. I promised him I would put it up in my garage.
She asked, "How many performers of the stature of Jay Leno would call three times and be so kind that he didn't want to hurt this young man's feelings?"
Ross, the legendary diva who had a 1976 hit with "Love Hangover," is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. Saturday in her Minneapolis Convention Center appearance for PACERCenter.org.
Nicole's nights with Prince
Nicole Murphy and Prince apparently go way back.
Monday the model and ex-Mrs. Eddie Murphy was on "Live with Kelly & Michael" with her current love, Michael Strahan, promoting the third season of VH1's "Hollywood Exes." Among the exes on that show with Murphy is Prince's first ex — Mayte Garcia.
"I always seem to run into this man," Murphy told Kelly Ripa and Strahan. "When I was 17 years old, I was in Paris. I was modeling. I was in the club because you could be in the club at 17 and I was dancing with my girlfriend. This dude walks in with all these people and I was like, 'Girl, look at that dude trying to look like Prince.' He had pants on with buttons going all down [the outseam]. A few minutes later a big bodyguard comes up. Prince would like to buy you a guys a drink. [She gasped.] So I had a soda. I danced three songs with him with his songs [playing].
"Then I ran into him again at a Jill Scott concert," Murphy said. "He invited us to dinner at his house. It was about 2 o'clock in the morning, so I went."
Apparently unaware of this story, Strahan — the former NFLer, FOX sports analyst and new "GMA" contributor — interjected "Hold up! Hold up!"
Murphy calmed the fiancé who hasn't exactly rushed her to the altar. "I was with some people. Let me tell my story. So we ate dinner and all of a sudden he [Symbolina] goes: OK now, everybody is going roller skating. Now it's about 4 in the morning. The whole roller rink has candles around [it]. I'm skating and all of a sudden Prince comes out in his skates and his skates lit up."
I doubt Prince will pull a George Clooney, who has yet to say anything about his engagement, and make a move on Murphy.
C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9's "Buzz." E-mailers, please state a subject; "Hello" does not count. .